May 15, 2015 4:15 PM
By early afternoon today, New Albany lawmen had recovered a cell telephone used to make several malicious “prank” threats yesterday evening, Thursday, May 14th.
New Albany Police Chief Chris Robertson told NAnewsweb.com his department started receiving calls from the mobile phone late Thursday afternoon. First the caller or callers threatened an attack with an assault rifle at the McDonald’s restaurant in New Albany.
NAPD officers rushed to McDonalds on Highway 30, diagonally across the street from Baptist Hospital, where they evacuated the restaurant and searched the building. No actual firearm attack occurred and, contrary to rumors circulated on Facebook and other “social media,” no handgun was recovered in a McDonald’s bathroom or anywhere else on the premises.
Subsequently there were multiple calls from the same cell phone to the non-emergency telephone number at the police department. The caller or callers variously threatened “suicide” because police were “too slow to respond” and threatened to “kill every cop in New Albany,” etc. Robertson said his officers quickly concluded the calls were likely from vicious pranksters, but that, given their violent nature, had to be pursued aggressively.
It was determined that the calls were being placed from outside Union County.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday evening the same telephone was used to call the local police department and threaten that there was a bomb at the Walmart store in New Albany. NAPD officers contacted security personnel at the store, and the store was cleared of employees and customers.
A search by lawmen, Walmart personnel and local emergency management people found no bomb. Customers and Walmart workers were allowed back in the store about 7:15 p.m.
Robertson said this afternoon that his department, with much assistance from other local and out-of-county law enforcement agencies, had determined that the telephone had been taken from a vulnerable individual at a public gathering outside Union County. Authorities have concluded that the callers were likely juveniles, and are trying make a concrete identification of who was involved in the calls.
Robertson said, “If, as we now believe, it is determined that the perpetrators were juveniles, we will be limited as to what criminal charges and punishment are possible. This is not a harmless, childish prank.
“People could have been injured in evacuating these businesses. Some may have suffered serious health issues because of the stress involved. It created real danger to the community and wasted countless hours of time by a great many law officers.
” I am confident that law enforcement and the courts will deal with this in a stern and rigorous manner.”